Injured Roosters lock Sio Siua Taukeiaho says the re-signing of prop forward Dylan Napa is a major boost for the club as they look to bounce back after a tough year on and off the field.
The club announced on Tuesday night that Napa had re-signed for a further two seasons in a deal that will see him stay at the Roosters until the end of 2019.
The firebrand front-rower was a standout for the Tricolours in 2016, making more metres (2,820) and breaking more tackles (40) than any other forward at the club and is expected to play State of Origin sooner rather than later.
There was speculation the in-demand prop could leave the Bondi Junction based club at the end of 2017, but just like fellow middle forwards Taukeiaho and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Napa decided to extend his stay at the Roosters.
"I just found out that Napa re-signed," Taukeiaho said on the Central Coast at the announcement of a trial game between the Roosters and Sea Eagles for the Community Cup.
"All of us players love playing alongside Napa and Jared. We know what they're capable of, and the way Jared always leads the forward pack [is first class]. I'm really excited to have them for a couple more years at the club."
With Waerea-Hargreaves on the sidelines for the start of the 2016 Telstra Premiership season with a knee injury, Napa took his game to new heights and helped fill the void as the leader of the pack.
His performance against the Rabbitohs in Round 6 was the stuff of legend, as Napa ran for 141 metres, made 51 tackles and scored a try in an 80-minute display that saw him completely dominate the Burgess brothers.
Taukeiaho praised his teammate for what was an extraordinary overall season, but said it was too soon to see Napa anointed the sole leader of a Roosters pack that also includes big men Isaac Liu and Kane Evans.
"Losing Jared, we had Napa step up… also Isaac and Kane as well. Now that we've got them for a couple more years, it's going to mean we have another strong forward pack," he said.
"I think Jared will always be the leader of our forward pack, but obviously we've seen what Napa can bring to the team. Against the Rabbitohs he played a full 80 minutes of good, consistent footy.
"No doubt that a few of us will be behind him to support him and hopefully he can support Jared so we have two leaders there helping us and the backs as well."
After finishing 15th last season, Taukeiaho said the 2013 premiers were better placed this year following the acquisition of talented duo Luke Keary and Michael Gordon.
The Roosters struggled to replace former five-eighth James Maloney last season, with several younger players thrust into the No.6 jersey to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves.
But with Keary at their disposal, Taukeiaho is confident things would run more smoothly in 2017.
"It was a bit disappointing with last year. We lost a few of our experienced players. We lost Mitchell Pearce and Jared, so we had a few younger players that came up," he said.
"During pre-season we signed Luke Keary and Michael Gordon as well. It's going to be good having those two experienced players helping Mitchell Pearce and the backs and some of us middles as well.
"Watching Luke Keary train with Mitchell Pearce in the pre-season, he's been outstanding. Everything has been working out well. It was a bit of a shocker losing Jimmy, but that's life and you've got to move on.
"It's kind of good having another experienced half working with Mitchell Pearce and us players are really excited to see what he can bring."
This article first appeared on NRL.COM